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Ecclestone: We cannot force teams to go to Bahrain

NEWS STORY
10/04/2012

Amidst growing unease within the paddock, Bernie Ecclestone admits that teams cannot be forced to go to Bahrain against their will.

If the race is finally called off, the later they leave it the more egg the powers that be will have on their faces - then again, better egg than some flammable concoction.

While the silence from the FIA is deafening - other than confirmation that it is 'keeping an eye on things' to Reuters - Bernie Ecclestone has finally admitted that if some teams opt not to go to Bahrain he cannot force them.

"If the teams don't want to go, then we cannot make them," he told the Times.

Meanwhile, one anonymous team official confirmed the unease within the teams. "I don't think anybody's keen," they told the Daily Telegraph. "No one wants to travel to a country where one is not wholly welcome."

"We keep saying it but we really are in the hands of the FIA, the commercial rights holder and race organisers here to make the right decision," they added. "And of course they must be made for the right reasons; commercial and political factors must not be allowed to compromise anyone's safety."

Another team insider, again anonymously, told the Guardian: "I feel very uncomfortable about going to Bahrain. If I'm brutally frank, the only way they can pull this race off without incident is to have a complete military lockdown there. And I think that would be unacceptable, both for F1 and for Bahrain. But I don't see any other way they can do it.

"We're all hoping the FIA calls it off," they admitted. "From a purely legal point of view, in terms of insurance and government advice, we are clear to go. But what we find worrying is that there are issues happening every day."

Meanwhile, John Yates, the former Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner now acting as a special adviser to Bahrain's security services, told the Telegraph: "There is nothing that in any way warrants the race to be postponed."

Admitting that there are "pockets of violence" in Shiite villages, he insists "95 per cent" of the island is safe. Promising that policing of the event will be "low key and discreet" but admits that if needed it could become more obvious.

"If there are problems, they must be able to escalate their response," he said. "You saw what happened in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race over the weekend. That man is lucky to get away with his life."

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